- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Protesters on Monday blocked traffic on Interstate 84 in Hartford to protest police killings of black people, including George Floyd, who died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee on his neck for several minutes.

Demonstrators also marched to the capital city’s police headquarters, chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and held signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd.”

State police said they were asking for protesters to get off the highway, where traffic in both directions was blocked by demonstrators lying on the pavement. Rallies also were held in other towns including Manchester and Bristol.

Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said Monday afternoon that demonstrations in the state had been peaceful in comparison with violence seen in some big American cities.

“Overall, very peaceful, a diverse group of people, men and women, black, white and Hispanic, all in this together for something bigger than themselves,” he said. “And I just hope to God that we can maintain that sense of respect and peace that is so key.”

Waterbury police arrested 28 people on Sunday, mostly for minor offenses including blocking roads, authorities said. Police said it appeared the people who were arrested were not part of the peaceful main rally earlier in the day organized by Black Lives Matter. No injuries or major property damage were reported.

New Haven police late Sunday sprayed an irritating chemical on some protesters who tried to get into headquarters, officials said. Early Monday, someone threw a flaming homemade device at a police substation, causing no major damage or injuries, police said.

Cities in the state have been largely spared from the violent confrontations and property damage in other cities nationwide in response to Floyd’s death.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, however, said Waterbury police and state police in Bridgeport undermined health and safety by responding to peaceful protests in riot gear and making arrests.

Videos showed Waterbury police tackling peaceful protesters, said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut.

Protesters blocked Interstate 84 in Waterbury and Interstate 95 in New Haven on Sunday. No arrests on the highways were reported. State police arrested two people Saturday in Bridgeport when a crowd blocked Route 8.

State police released a statement Monday condemning the Minneapolis officer’s actions that led to Floyd’s death.

“We are sad, we are angry and we are disgusted,” state police said. “We’re disgusted that anyone wearing a police uniform would do what we all saw in that video. We’re angry that the actions of a few will affect all of us. … To our community, please know that we are more than a uniform, we are ordinary people and we stand with you.”

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